SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Computer & Electronics Recycling Event Planned For Ketchikan


June 07, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC), Tongass Conservation Society (TCS), Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), and the City of Ketchikan Landfill have joined forces to help local residents and businesses recycle old computer and electronic equipment through a two-day special collection event to be held on June 23-24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ketchikan City Landfill located on Nordstrom Drive (Deer Mountain). A wide variety of working and non-working electronic equipment will be accepted free of charge including: PCs and laptops, computer monitors, printers and other peripherals, televisions, telephones and fax machines, and consumer electronics such as radios, stereos, VCRs, and cell phones.

Kara Lunde of SAIL and its ORCA program said, "This collaboration between the groups highlights the opportunities we have to work together for the sake of the entire community."

Gregory Vickrey of the Tongass Conservation Society added, "This electronics collection is step one, and I think we can look forward to a number of other dynamic projects in the near future."

The term "e-waste" refers to the wide range of electronic waste from more traditional consumer electronics (such as TV's, VCR's and stereos) to computers and computer peripherals (including printers, keyboards, scanners, etc.) and to newer technology products such as cellular phones, digital cameras, and personal digital assistants. Currently, it is estimated that about 50% of US households own a computer and that 315 million computers have become obsolete in the United States by 2006. This is a result of rapid advancements in technology and greater consumer use of computer products. Some e-waste also contains hazardous materials that may harm the environment if disposed of improperly.

"This event will give rise to Borough-wide education about the potential harm such things as e-waste can cause to our soil and water," said Tanya Verbyla of KIC. "This is a 'backyard' kind of thing that all of us can do to improve the community."

Similar events held in Sitka and Anchorage received huge responses. The approximate population of Sitka is 8,000 and they receive on average 9,000 pounds of electronics each year for the event. Anchorage has a population of 286,000 and received 524,000 pounds. It is estimated that the greater Ketchikan area could collect approximately 28,000 pounds of e-waste. Vickery noted that this seems high for our population, but such an event has never been held in town and many businesses have already stated they have storage rooms full of electronics.

A concern of participants in such events is identity theft from turning in their personal or business computers. The company used to recycle the collected e-waste provides a letter of certification stating that all computers donated will be recycled and that measures are taken to insure no identity theft will occur. Participants or volunteers can run a magnet over CPUs or remove the hard drive and smash it with a hammer.

To participate in the event, participants should bring in their e-waste to the landfill where it will be sorted, palletized, and placed in a shipping container. The container will then be shipped to Seattle, Washington, where it will be transfered to the recycling facility, Total Reclaim ( Once there, the items will be further sorted and recycled. If participants choose, their e-waste can be refurbished and sent to non-profit organizations.

The cost of recycling e-waste is determined on a per pound basis. The current rate is between 25 and 30 cents per pound. To help offset the cost related to estimated large quantities from businesses, KIC and TCS ask businesses to donate up to $100. The funds will be used to help offset the recycling and shipping costs associated with the event. Participating businesses will have their name published in a thank you letter.

Laura Huffine from the City of Ketchikan concludes, "We look forward to having community-wide involvement and encourage participation from businesses."

If you have questions about donating or would like more information, contact Tanya Verbyla, Environmental Coordinator for the Ketchikan Indian Community, at 228-5537, or Gregory Vickrey, director of the Tongass Conservation Society, at 225-3275.


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